The National Theatre has announced that Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex has become its Royal Patron. The patronage reflects the former American TV star’s belief in using the arts to bring people from different backgrounds and communities together.
The Queen has passed on the Royal Patronage to the Duchess of Sussex having held the role for the last 45 years and has been associated with the organisation since its earliest days at the Old Vic in the 1960s. The Queen last visited the National Theatre in 2013, as part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, where she officially opened the building after major redevelopment and watched some rehearsals before being reunited with Joey from War Horse.
The Duchess has spent decades championing the arts and feels that she can use her position to focus attention on and make a particular difference to the sector. Whilst she spent ten years working in television (and is well known for playing Rachel Zane in the American legal drama series Suits), her training is in theatre. As well as a double major in theatre and international relations from Northwestern University, which is renowned for its drama programme, the Duchess volunteered at a performing arts after school programme for children in underprivileged school districts in Los Angeles.
Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said: “I would like to thank The Queen for Her Majesty’s long and unwavering support and service to the National Theatre. We were honoured when The Queen became our Patron in 1974 and have celebrated many moments together including, in recent years, the Diamond Jubilee and the marking of our 50th anniversary.
“It is a privilege to welcome The Duchess of Sussex as our new Patron. The Duchess shares our deeply-held conviction that theatre has the power to bring together people from all communities and walks of life. I very much look forward to working closely with Her Royal Highness in the years to come.”
The Duchess met with Rufus Norris last year and conducted a private visit to the theatre. She is expected to carry out a public visit to the NT in the coming weeks.